Most business owners know they should have some type of marketing plan and strategy. However, many don’t realize that marketing should be an ongoing effort. Your marketing plan must be flexible enough to respond to changing market conditions. A marketing strategy that was effective for your business last year, may no longer be sufficient.
A marketing plan should define your marketing strategy and end goals, as well as your target audience and the type of marketing content that will help you reach them. Once developed, you can update your marketing plan regularly based on your changing business goals and priorities.
Here are 4 steps to focus on:
1. Create Specific Goals
First and foremost, you should decide what you want to achieve through marketing. Try to be as specific as possible and set clear deadlines. Taking the time to think through and organize your goals will allow you to best identify the right marketing strategy and content for achieving them. Goals should also be measurable, so you’ll be able to easily determine how close you come to achieving them. An example of a specific, measurable goal might be: Increase sales month-over-month by 10%, with half of additional sales coming from existing customers and the other half from new customers.
2. Identify Your Target Audience
Before building a specific marketing strategy, you should identify who your marketing efforts will be targeting. One easy way to do this is by looking at your existing customers. Who are they? Do they have specific interests or jobs? Where do they spend time online and in-person? Examine their characteristics in as much detail as possible. Then, consider how they might be reached with a marketing message.
3. Define Your Marketing Strategies
A marketing plan should include an overall marketing strategy and the steps necessary to achieve your marketing goals. It should include an overview of how you will promote your products or services. You may decide to utilize several different strategies, or you may choose to focus on just one or two. Some common marketing strategies include:
- Direct Marketing. This involves sending or delivering marketing materials directly to your target audience. Perhaps these are past customers that you’re looking to re-engage with, or a list of prospective customers you’ve compiled from events or newsletter signups. Direct marketing materials can include traditional mail, postcards, and emails, as well as phone calls or text messages. They typically contain a very clear offer or call-to-action, such as “buy now” or “visit us”.
- Mass Marketing. This strategy involves getting a message in front of as many eyes as possible. With mass marketing, your audience isn’t typically very defined or targeted. Rather than reach specific people, mass marketing allows you “cast a wide net”. Examples of mass marketing include television commercials, billboards, or print ads in newspapers or magazines.
- Digital/Online Marketing. Digital and online marketing includes paid ad placements on specific websites search engines as well as content posted to social media, online video platforms, and blogs. Digital marketing can also include maintaining a favorable presence on online business directories and review platforms.
- Relationship Marketing. With this strategy the focus is on growing existing customer relationships to cross-sell additional relevant products or services and retain customer loyalty and drive repeat business.
4. Create Your Marketing Content
Once you’ve hashed out which marketing strategies you’d like to pursue, you’ll need to create compelling original content to communicate your marketing message. It can be helpful to evaluate the marketing content of your direct competitors as well as thought leaders in your specific industry. Consider the medium you’ll be using for your marketing strategy to ensure you develop the relevant content to support it, whether it be in the form of an email, video, blog article, social media ad, or something else.
You will likely find that creating and implementing a marketing plan that works for your small business takes trial and error. However, from each campaign or piece of content you will gain more insight into what resonates with your target audience. Stay patient and continue to tweak your marketing efforts based on what you learn.
If you’re a small business owner looking to fund future marketing initiatives, or if you’re looking for business solutions that could help your business’s bottom line, don’t hesitate to contact us today. We have a wide variety of business financing options and operational solutions, as well as a dedicated team of Business Bankers ready to help assist!